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What We Do
Forensic science can be a powerful force in support of justice and public safety. Properly applied, it clears the innocent and helps convict the guilty. But if used inappropriately, forensic science can lead to miscarriages of justice and to criminals remaining free to commit more crimes.
NIST is working to strengthen forensic practice through research and improved standards. We are leading an effort that involves three key components:
We conduct scientific research in several forensic disciplines, including DNA, ballistics, fingerprint analysis, trace evidence, and digital, among others. We also provide physical reference standards and data that help forensic laboratories validate their analytical methods and ensure accurate test results.
We co-chaired, with the Department of Justice, the National Commission on Forensic Science, which formulated recommendations for the U.S. Attorney General on matters such as accreditation requirements for forensic science service providers.
We administer the Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science (OSAC), which is facilitating the development of science-based standards and guidelines for a broad array of forensic disciplines.